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To say there is a lot of information about health care and medicine on the Internet would be to state the obvious, which would be to use cliché. But it’s true. What is worth reading beyond the headlines depends on what you are looking to gain. Do you want cut-and-dry medical news, a closer examination of Obamacare topics, unique stories that will leave you feeling entertained and a bit wiser?
While this list just scratches the surface and sticks to the mainstream, for the most part, here is a look at five health care and medical blogs worth checking out. Each summary offers a flavor of what you will find—or not—at each, but don’t take our word for it, give them a read.
1. Shots: Health News from NPR – npr.org/blogs/health
What to expect: Current, relevant health care and medical news delivered in a variety of formats; a colorful and narrative approach
What you won’t find: Your standard just-the-facts news pieces
While NPR may be a news organization, its stories often take on a more engaging and personal tone than those of more traditional news outlets. This can be attributed to an abundance of colorful photos, a casual but still authoritative tone, first-person accounts and plenty of quotes from experts and ordinary human beings alike.
The Shots blog features topics related to health policy, public health, treatments, personal health and more. A content partnership means some segments come from with Kaiser Health News, particularly answers to questions about health care reform. The blog hails from a podcast, which you can subscribe to; you can also listen to many of the stories at the blog.
2. Harvard Health Blog – health.harvard.edu/blog
What to expect: Expert analysis and insight on health topics and medical news, delivered in a smart but digestible manner
What you won’t find: Health care policy information and commentary
Doctors and other professionals from Harvard Medical School’s Health Publications write the posts for Harvard Health Blog, so there is a strong sense the information contained there is trustworthy. It is also written with a general audience in mind. The content is delivered frequently and is not limited to the latest health studies. Many recent posts tie in world affairs and news events, including an explanation of the global cooperation necessary to stop the spread of the Ebola virus, and in the wake of Robin Williams’ death, insight on the challenges suicide survivors face. There are also posts about useful health apps, exercise, drugs and supplements, physical and mental health conditions, and health care topics such as getting the most out of a doctor visit, among others.
3. WSJ Health Blog – blogs.wsj.com/health
What to expect: Health news and policy delivered from long-trusted, highly regarded news source
What you won’t find: Regular updates
Though it has not been updated for awhile, The Wall Street Journal’s Health Blog is worth mentioning—and bookmarking. It is a case in which quality content makes up for quantity. From health care reform to health care itself, diseases to healthy habits, diet to genetics, it’s all addressed. First-person accounts of research and illness, questions posed to readers, and useful tips on, say, napping, laced with statistics, research and expert commentary make for information delivered in a relatable way.
4. The Atlantic’s James Hamblin, MD – theatlantic.com/james-hamblin
What to expect: Fresh angles and surprising topics; pieces that read like stories
What you won’t find: Brevity, dryness
It may not be a blog in the strictest sense, but James Hamblin’s pieces at theatlantic.com are regular, focused on health, and worth a read. As an MD, he blends a doctor’s perspective with a writer’s storytelling capabilities. Neither lengthy feature articles, nor quick hits, his pieces are in-depth healthy stories that suck you in. Hamblin tends to address the relevant but not necessarily the hottest topics, which makes the content sometimes come off as quirky or unexpected—the hierarchy of meat, single-tasking as the new multi-tasking, the health benefits of trees. When he does talk about recent health news stories such as Robin Williams’ depression, the Ebola virus, guns, or legalized recreational marijuana, he finds a slightly different approach—Williams’ zeal for life, how the treatment American victims were given works, the law preventing some physicians from talking about firearms safety, video footage of Hamblin’s visit to Aspen.
5. The Commonwealth Fund Blog – commonwealthfund.org/Publications/Blog
What to expect: Health care reform updates, analysis and commentary from experts in several health care–related fields
What you won’t find: Journalistic stories
Though not exclusively devoted to health care reform and the Affordable Care Act, The Commonwealth Fund Blog certainly stays on top of Obamacare topics. Posts, which are often written by several expert authors, unpack and analyze the deeper meaning and implications of state and federal decisions related to health care reform. The content gets down to the basics and beyond, but with no frills. That’s not to say it’s tough or heady to read. It answers consumer questions thoroughly and with authority. Infographics, charts and graphs serve to illustrate data and communicate it in a comprehensive, meaningful way.
If you want to go deeper than mainstream ACA updates, this is a good starting place to learn about the intricacies and implications of the Halbig ruling, the economics of prescription drugs, and health insurance costs before and after Obamacare, and much, much more.